Ishkhani’s New Flashy Wall
20 June, 2013
Ishkhani’s New Flashy Wall
Several months ago the Turkish side began restoration of Georgian historical monuments on the territory of Turkey. Right now Ishkhani is under rehabilitation. From the very first days there were concerns because of rapid speed of restoration process which is not controlled by the specialists neither from Turkish nor from Georgian sides. Ishkhani temple’s floor was damaged; there are problems with mural paintings. Right now Ishkhani is rebuilt with flashy yellow stone which doesn’t suit
the color and structure of the monument. And Georgian side is not involved in the process because of lingering negotiations that intend to include Georgian specialists in the process. Georgian Journal talked to Dr. Irene Giviashvili Georgian art historian, a research fellow of Giorgi Chubinashvili National Center of Georgian Art History and Monument Protection who keeps her eye on the process of restoration in Turkey: “The restoration works in Ishkhani are going on in high tempo and the information, which we get, is minimal.”
Q. At what stage the negotiations on including of Georgian specialists is? Does the Georgian side have any information on the process of rehabilitation?
A. Georgian side doesn’t attend the restoration works conducted by the Turkish side and Ishkhsni temple’s door is closed for us, Georgians. As I am informed from the press, Ministries of Culture and Foreign Affairs have negotiations to allow Georgian group of experts to visit Ishkhani.
Q. Ishkhani church wall is built with flashy stones that don’t suit the monument. Does Turkish side know what kind of material to use while employing new building materials at the repair work of the church?
A. The project of Ishkhani takes into account not only conservation but restoration too. The restoration of this wall is going on according to the project of Anfora Mimarlik Restorasyon. But the project on the paper differs from what has been already done. The newly built wall doesn’t have coincidence with the authentic parts of Ishkhani wall. We were informed by the Turkish side that tests of Ishkhani stone structure showed that the stone they used is most fitting. This stone is from Kaiser stone quarry and is used for restoration. Logically stone should be brought from Ishkhani surroundings, but it is an expensive and slow process and they choose to bring stone from Central Anatolia, from Cappadocia. Maybe this stone suits Ishkhani stone structure but it has absolutely different yellow motley color and at the same time, the brick-work of this stone, its structure and texture is different from Ishkhani stonework. NGO “Monument Friend” also published the fragments of the 11th century facade fragments where one can rearly see the difference.
Q. Does the Turkish side fully control the process of restoration or it became uncontrollable?
A. They control it in a way they consider it should be controlled. The restoration works are provided by the Osman Gulsum Company. I think Erzurum Monument Protection service is in charge of rehabilitation works too. We have no news about mural paintings but we hope it will stand the process and survive.
Q. Will the Georgian sides have the chance to make key decisions after joining the rehabilitation process?
A. We can’t talk about it right now until the intergovernmental agreement is signed. I am afraid, before the text of the agreement reaches Turkey and it gets signed, it will be too late for Ishkhani.
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